Employers and individuals are paying more for health insurance than ever before – a lot more. A 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports that healthcare spending in the U.S. rose nearly a trillion dollars from 1996 to 2015. Indeed, the high cost of healthcare is putting a dent in business’ profitability and employees’ discretionary income – and all signs indicate that spending will continue to grow.

Telehealth, too, is experiencing explosive growth, but this growth saves people money and boosts the bottom line. In fact, telehealth is poised to turn U.S. healthcare on its head – in the very best way possible.

Virtual care provides high-quality, accessible and convenient medical attention for minor illnesses and injuries – at a fraction of the cost of hospital, urgent care and even primary care visits. Employees who understand how and when to use telehealth can save themselves and their employers considerable time, money and hassle – without sacrificing any quality of care. In fact, telehealth outcomes can even be better than in-person care.

Beyond the obvious advantages, telehealth also provides a host of trickle-down benefits to companies and employees:

1. Convenience: No one wants to drive to a doctor’s office or urgent care clinic when they’re sick. With telehealth providers like MeMD, employees can talk to a provider from the comfort of home, any time, any day. Whether it’s a sore throat at 2 a.m. or a minor burn on a Sunday, they can quickly and conveniently access the care they need. Board-certified medical providers are available 24/7 to provide treatment for common illnesses and minor injuries, and even e-prescribe medications if needed.

2. Speed: Unlike urgent care, which often requires a lengthy wait in a room full of sick people, MeMD connects members with a highly qualified medical provider in a matter of minutes. The average wait time for a telehealth visit is only 11 minutes, and the entire visit is typically completed in half an hour. This means employees get back on the road to recovery much more quickly, and with much less hassle.

3. Cost Savings: An emergency room visit averaged $1,917 in 2016, according to a report by The Health Care Cost Institute. Healthcare Bluebook reports an urgent care visit can be considerably less, averaging $119-$330 or more, but it’s still a significant expense for most people. What’s worse is many people who visit the ER or urgent care are in the wrong place. They only need treatment for a minor illness or injury – which can be treated via telehealth – for on average $45 (according to the Wall Street Journal), which is far more cost-effective.

4. Quality: A recent study from Humana indicates that telehealth outcomes are just as good (if not better) than in-person care. In addition, MeMD’s providers are state-licensed, U.S. board-certified and credentialed every two years using NCQA guidelines. Patients can rest assured they’re receiving quality care.

5. Productivity: A healthy, productive workforce is integral to a healthy bottom line. Employees who can’t easily access healthcare – or can’t take the time off work to seek treatment at a physician’s office or urgent care clinic – may come to work sick. This often results in reduced productivity and presenteeism, along with the risk of spreading the illness to other employees.

Telehealth removes barriers to care, ensuring employees will get the treatment they need and get back to work.

To learn more about telehealth through MeMD, visit memd.me.

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